Club Med

Molly Miller swung by The Brasserie to sample its new menu which is inspired by the traditional flavours of the Mediterranean and is now being served to discerning diners every lunchtime and evening…


They say, ‘money can’t buy happiness, but it can buy food’. Now although I have never doubted that phrase, I hadn’t tasted food that would elicit such feelings – until now that is.

As typical British weather goes, it was a drizzly day as I made my way up a cobbled street in the heart of Tunbridge Wells towards The Brasserie. The restaurant stands proud on the corner of Chapel Place and immediately welcomes you with a feeling of warmth and relaxation, transporting you away from the typical woes of a wet and windy Monday afternoon.

Upon entering, my guest and I were welcomed into a deli-like space which is used for morning to-go customers who choose to grab something delicious from The Brasserie’s popular breakfast menu.

Part of One Warwick Park Hotel, the establishment’s interiors are elegant and chic, combining a black marbled bar with racing green walls and statement wood panelling, which seamlessly lead you into the main restaurant.

The staff have a delightful hospitality style that immediately makes you feel you’re in good hands. My guest Georgie and I were shown to our table by Deputy Operations Manager Sham, who was quick to ask if we would like any water or wine to start and ensured we were happy with our table, which overlooked a charming row of neighbouring shops.

We then met our waiter for the afternoon, Fenn, who greeted us with our chosen wines – a smooth, elegantly balanced Pinot Grigio rosé and a light and refreshing Sauvignon Blanc from Chile – before leaving us some time to scour the menu.

The Brasserie is headed up by up-and-coming chef Ollie Funnell, and taking a first look at the new dishes, his cooking style seems refreshingly unique. There’s plenty of choice for meat lovers, vegans, and vegetarians alike, and dishes are full of the sunshine and mellow warmth of the coastlines of Spain, Italy, and France.

Options straddle the line between classic Mediterranean favourites and more unusual options, so whether you stick to what you know and opt for the classics or want to experiment, there’s something for all taste palates.

Highlights that caught my eye included butterfly king tiger prawns in garlic red pepper butter and lobster ravioli with saffron and seafood bisque.

But it was the set menu that won us over with the promise of two courses for under £25. What with spiralling living costs, it’s not like any of us can eat out as much as we’d like to, making this a great option for value-for-money dining.

For starters, I chose the gluten-free garlic and chilli chicken skewers which were served on a bed of baby gem lettuce, spring onions and toasted sesame seeds with a side of homemade tzatziki. The portion size was generous, and the chicken was tender and full of fresh flavours.

Georgie had the cuttlefish calamari to kick off her lunch. This is not the usual seafood used for this popular starter but boy did Ollie and his team get it right. The fresh cuttlefish had a texture and taste far superior to that of squid and was light and crispy thanks to its cornflour batter.

The cuttlefish calamari was also gluten-free with plenty to go around and came served with a wedge of lemon, fresh chilli, and dill mayonnaise.

Both starters were so ornately presented we were almost reluctant to dig in, although that didn’t stop us.

Dining here – whatever time of day you chose – is a stylish experience. Large smoked mirrors line the back of the restaurant, bouncing light around the modern-infused art-deco-style interiors while walls are dressed in vintage art. The restaurant’s banquette-style seats are furnished with soft velvet cushions that are perfect for sinking into and staying a while.

When it came to choosing our mains, we were both pleasantly surprised with the hearty options on offer, given it was a lunchtime set menu. I expected smaller portions or perhaps simplified dishes – but this definitely wasn’t the case.

The Brasserie burger and the spiced chicken thigh orzo skillet were unapologetically huge but in the best way possible.

Having always been partial to a burger, I had high hopes when I saw it on the menu and it didn’t disappoint. It arrived stacked high and boasted 100% British beef layered with Applewood smoked cheddar cheese and baby gem leaves all sandwiched between a fresh pretzel bun.

But the star of the show had to be the lashings of bacon jam. Aside from it being absolutely can’t-stop-eating delicious, it added a unique flavour to my burger that was more sweet than savoury. On the side was a whopping pile of crispy fries, and a fresh, mixed salad.

Equally, the orzo skillet was met with plenty of satisfactory noises from across the table as Georgie tucked in. It was, and I quote, ‘unquestionably good’.

The dish combines tender, juicy, and flavourful chicken thighs with goats’ cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, fresh chilli, spring onion and red pepper and comes plated on an epic bed of orzo – the tiny, rice-like pasta shapes.

As it was only lunchtime, we were left comfortably full from our culinary trip around the Med, so we left the dessert menu to one side, but if you are feeling indulgent there’s a tooth-achingly sweet selection to choose from.

The set menu offers white chocolate and raspberry blondie, pistachio fondant, and apple tarte tatin. And if you’re dining from the main menu, you’ll be spoilt with chocolate fondant, passion fruit sponge pudding and the chef’s recommended baked Alaska, so be sure to save room!

Of course, any restaurant experience is about more than just the food, and The Brasserie is running a slick operation. Service is efficient but friendly, the restaurant was buzzing with hungry lunchtime diners of girlfriends gossiping and families catching up. After speaking with the Head Chef Ollie, it’s clear the involvement The Brasserie has with its local community too.

Ollie continued to explain that the new Mediterranean menu precisely sources the best, freshest, seasonal and sustainable ingredients from local suppliers. My guest and I greatly enjoyed its high-quality produce and honest, authentic food – springtime dining doesn’t get much better than this.

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